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Big Tobacco Comes Clean About Deceptive Marketing

Iowa's adult smoking rate of about 16 percent is slightly higher than the national average. (Anastasia Massone/Flickr)
Iowa's adult smoking rate of about 16 percent is slightly higher than the national average. (Anastasia Massone/Flickr)
November 27, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – Big tobacco is coming clean about the dangers of smoking, and Iowa health advocates are celebrating.

The tobacco industry began running corrective advertisements on Sunday as a result of a 2006 judgment for lying about the negative effects of smoking, and for marketing its products to children.

Brian Ortner, director of communications for the American Cancer Society in Iowa, says the ads will clearly state that the industry designed its products to be more addictive while knowing there were deadly health effects.

"Having this come out is definitely a win,” he stresses. “And it's a big statement, too, because it's showing that tobacco is a major contributor to cancer.

“Now, the big tobacco companies are putting the words out there that, 'Yes, we do understand that does happen now with our product.'"

The lawsuit began in 1999, and Ortner says it's taken years of stalling and appeals since the 2006 ruling for the tobacco industry to finally correct the public record.

Some anti-tobacco groups are concerned that, because the ads are only in newspapers and on television, young people, who typically consume media online and whom big tobacco is said to target as the next generation of smokers, won't hear the message.

Iowa's adult smoking rate of about 16 percent is slightly higher than the national average, but it's estimated that more than 5,100 deaths in the state are attributed to smoking each year.

Ortner says the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network will continue its efforts to reduce tobacco use.

"We just had the Great American Smokeout here in November, which is in its 40th year,” he states. “And quitting tobacco isn't easy, but it can be done.

“And the Great American Smokeout and things like this are just another step in that direction, to help people quit the addictive nature of cigarettes."

According to federal data, tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death and disease, claiming the lives of more than 480,000 Americans each year.

The American Cancer Society was among the public health groups that reached the settlement last month with the tobacco companies and the U.S. Department of Justice.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA